Keith Keith also known as Keith Caesar of the Funky 4+1 by Troy L. Smith from the Grant projects in HARLEM.

 

My brother thank you for your time. Id like to get right to the point. Who

 was the very first crew to start out in the hip hop game back in the 70’s?

 

 

 Kool Herc and the Herculoids!

 

 

Who was second Funky 4 or L. Brothers?

 

 

Funky 4 and Furious were about the same time, although Furious might have come a lil bit before us. Furious actually gave us the initiative to get into it. Me and K.K. were hanging out first ; we are best friends till this very day. We started the crew and Sha Rock was hanging out uptown so we put her on.

 

 

So what made you and K.K. put Sha Rock down first instead of a dude?

 

 

Well because she was in the flow, she was rappin and all that and yo there weren’t any female m.c.s just guys.

 

 

So what was your name at that time the Funky 3?

 

 

No. There was no name at all we were just 3 m.c.s and our D.J. BreakOut was the fourth piece.

 

 

So you and the crew were calling your selves Funky 4 before Rahiem got down?

 

 

Exactly. The name Funky came up in a joke. “Stink Bummy and Junky”. So we rhymed it with Funky. When Rahiem got down we just considered our selves the Funky Four and D.J. BreakOut.

 

 

Baron wasn’t down just yet?

 

 

No….Well he was down but we were mostly practicing and doing all the shows with BreakOut. Baron was mostly the Disco mixer who blended in the mix’s for us. BreakOut was cutting the beats for us.

 

 

So this was Rahiem who started all those Temptations type routines and other new beginning styles? 

 

 

No it was all of us.

 

 

So y’all were doing it before Rahiem got there.

 

 

No we were really just rhyming. Before Rahiem got to us he was an R&B singer. So he showed us a lot about dance steps to our lyrics and stuff. But we all had a hand in the routines.

 

 

So those days were like legendary back then because there were all these firsts going on, do you remember how the crowd looked or responded to yall when yall did something never seen or heard before?

 

 

They used to look at us like they were hypnotized, that’s were we got the name hypnotizing Funky 4 m.c.s. from. The crowd was shocked and amazed at the same time we were blazing them with the harmonizing and slammin them with the dance steps. Herculoids were before us but we considered our selves better than them , in fact we were better than all of them. Please don’t get me wrong we did not take that like, conceited wise. Once Rahiem left and Rodney Cee and Jazzy Jeff got on they said we fell off and this was about right after the record “That’s the Joint” around 79 or 80. So we asked for a battle against any group, D.J. or m.c. no one showed up. We were ready, the place was packed at the T- Connection and we were practicing for weeks on Rodney Cee’s roof.  This was during the time of what I would call the second generation of groups Fantastic 5 Cold Crush 4, Treacherous 3 etc. But no one showed except the Furious 5 , and they didn’t come to battle they just did a couple of routines.  We still did a blazing show and    still asked any one if they wanted to battle right on the stage, and no one came up. We had a good run with Hip Hop. We said back in those days that Hip Hop would never die.

Once we got with Sylvia Robinson of Sugar Hill records it was a good thing in the beginning. We signed a 3 year contract with her and a 2 year option. After the 3 we did not want the other 2 with her. She said before I let y’all go I will break yall up, and that is what she did. Me, Sha and Jeff stayed and K K and Rodney left and they formed Double Trouble. After that no more Funky 4, no reunions, no getting back together no this and that. I was really hurt. The movie “Wild style”  was supposed to be about us. Because we were in dispute with Sugar Hill Records they couldn’t use me, Sha and Jeff. So they just used Rodney and K.K.   Charlie Ahearn had to rewrite the script for Fantastic and Cold Crush. Believe me the story was originally written for the Funky 4. We were young when we signed those contracts with Enjoy. After the first record we did we woke up one morning and he had sold our contract to Sylvia Robinson. We were teenagers with out our mothers permission signing contracts.  It’s really sad how they took advantage of us and we were so young to them. That’s o.k. cause as we speak, us the Furious 5 and Reggie Reg of the Crash crew and others are in a lawsuit against Sugar Hill! I would love to get back together and if nothing we can just do our old records, even do remixes but the rest of the crew is not up for it. One day through an act of God we will be back together performing. I am looking forward to a reunion one day.

 

 

I see it happening one day you and the crew are legendary I am often asked about Funky 4 tapes. So I am sure I will see yall getting back together again to perform in some capacity.

 

Yea I’m ready to call you the Tape Master!

 

Sorry not there yet, but pushing towards it. I have to give props to guys like Old School Randy, Biz Mark And Gregory. Those are the Tape Masters, but I will get there one day.  Lets go back to the early days. Was there ever a crew yall battled?

 

 

Nobody wanted to battle us. In fact the only one was the Furious 5! I must give credit to the Furious they were awesome that night they took us out. This was during the time when they were the Furious 4 and Rahiem was down with us.

 

 

So this was the night Rahiem left y’all and joined the Furious? From what I heard on the streets the Furious went on first shocked the hell out of yall with such a treacherous show that yall got stuck and could not perform up to yall’s real capabilities , but Rahiem kept fighting. So at the end even though Funky lost. Mele Mel had big time respect for Raheim and he wanted Rahiem on the Furious team.

 

 

Negative that is not why he left us!

 

 

Good, that is what I want to know what is the real truth why Rahiem left Funky and went  to Furious. I have heard two reason’s we would like to hear your thoughts on this.

 

 

I believe he left because the Funky was more laid back than the Furious was, such as the dressing. After awhile Rahiem started dressing like them wearing the leather and Rhine stones and all that stuff. I got to get with you now Troy. He started slacking. That’s when me and K.K. said at a point “Rahiem isn’t into this like he used to be”. “Yo we got to cut him off”. So me and K.K. went over to his house and we had the Boom Box with us. So went over to his crib and told him we had to let him go and he did not show any hard feelings he was already thinking about getting down with the Furious any way.

 

 

How did you know that?

 

 

I guess by the way he responded when I told him we were letting him go. It’s a funny thing to this day when I think about it. Like I said we were carrying a boom box and the song “Love on a two way street” was playing, and at the end of the song the lyrics go “bye bye”. Well the way we recorded that record on the box the record was scratched and as we were walking away from Rahiem and walked up the hill the tape said over and over “bye bye, bye bye, bye bye”.  At the time me and K.K. thought it was funny but it was real deep. I said to K “you hear that”.

 

 

I hear you but tell me how Rahiem at that time could possibly be slacking?

 

 

He just wasn’t putting his percentage in. You know practicing and when we did parties he was not really into it. Nor was he dressing like us. They way Funky Four would dress.

 

 

How would  Funky Four dress?

 

 

With jeans and jean jackets.

 

 

But wasn’t he the best in the Funky Four?

 

 

Sure he was, he is even one of the best now as well as back then with Furious.

 

 

Yea he has his own style.

 

 

Exactly. Also he has that singing voice. As well as a good writing state of mind.

 

 

So what about the L- Brothers yall never had no beef with them to battle?

 

 

Naw we was cool, nobody really wanted to battle us.

 

 

Alright let me ask you this do you remember all the territories  the groups ran? First Kool Herc.

 

 

Herc was down on Washington, Claremont.

 

 

Hold up! I thought he was over there on University?

 

 

He was up here on University but he played over on Webster ave .and Washington ave. as well, over at Claremont center.

 

 

What street is that?

 

 

169th st. and third ave.

 

 

Oh that’s over there by Webster projects.

 

 

Right. Now the L- Brothers came from the eastside of Boston Road. 169st.

 

 

So they were not that far from Kool Herc?

 

 

Right just down the hill from them. The Furious was over there by 63 park by Boston Road. Funky 4 was by Jefferson and Franklin avenues close to Boston Road as well. But we took our parties uptown. Cold Crush was cross town by West Farms, over there by Rahiem.

 

 

What about Busy?

 

 

He was by 63 park  closer to Fantastic and Furious.

 

 

So everybody was really close together!

 

 

Boogie Down Yo!

 

 

But what I am saying is that  nobody was really on the out skirts over by the Concourse or something.

 

 

Nope the music wasn’t even over there.

 

 

Not even by Hunt’s point section?

 

 

 Everything started right where I am telling you, the section of Boston Rd. 169st.

 

 

So Herc was first with the block parties?

 

 

Right, but we were first with school park jams!

 

 

So did y'all have to get permits first before yall came out?

 

 

Nah we just came out. The cops would come when somebody might complain because the music be to loud. They would never take the equipment, but they would tell us to pack up. Sometimes we would rock on a Sunday cause the next day was a holiday.  Our jams were so tuff people use to come up in O.J.s (98’s). the streets would be packed.

 

 

Fresh brothers getting money, fine girls!

 

 

That’s right. No joke. Once in awhile a crab (sucker, knuckle head) would say somebody got a gun and people would scatter, but there wouldn’t be a gun. Other than that there was no real violence. And when you hear the lyric “Rock you to the break of dawn” we took it literally cause the sun be coming up and we still rocking.

 

 

Get the hell out of here. Till the Sun came up?

 

 

Yes! To the break of dawn! Ya heard me. Man in the clubs and High schools too. And I’m like 17 years old.

 

 

Moms wasn’t getting mad?

 

 

Moms was pissed! Cause I wasn’t calling home. Moms would say all you gots to do is drop a dime. Man after the parties we used to take a lot of people from the T- Connection and treat them to white castle and get the murder burgers. We really use to love hanging out with our party people.

 

 

I used to love those murders burgers. Now you got to take a motrin or Tylenol or something to take the gas out of you. Did any body ever threaten to take the crews equipment?

 

 

No we always had back! Even if Zulu wasn’t there we had our own crew.

 

 

So Zulu thoroughly had your backs?

 

 

Yes.

 

 

How did yall get that juice being as Zulu was way over in Bronx River?

 

 

Because me K.K. and Breakout were B-Boys before anything. Me and K.K. were break dancing against Zulu at Bronx River and them dudes didn’t want to let us out of there. Bambaataa came and said “Yo them brothers is cool” and that was on the strength of Bam and Breakout being cool. So after that we was up in there. Besides we grew up with Pow Wow and Globe long before they were Soul Sonic Force. We made a plate one day called Cars that never made it to the store’s cause we passed it to Bam to play at a jam once and never seen the plate again. It was blazin.

 

 

 So how was it  working with Sha-Rock , a girl.

 

 

Lovely - no problems. She gave us a different out look from a female point of view.

 

 

I am really talking about the fellas being disrespectful.

 

 

She brought them in. Brothers were never disrespectful to Sha. They even gave us additional respect because of Sha- Rock.

 

 

Did any one of you in the crew date her?

 

 

K.K. a lil something but nothing serious.

 

 

Who did your security when Zulu weren’t around?

 

 

Brothers from uptown Bronx, Ben Herron, Big Tom and Black and they were from Edermore projects and other dudes from Boston road as well as Gun Hill road and some of them were called the 78 crew. The T- Connection was our spot. The Black Door on Boston road belonged to Furious. We did a lot of parties at Harlem World.

 

 

How did yall originally get so attached to T- Connection?

 

 

We are all mostly close to Gun Hill road where T- Connection is at. So we stayed up town. Flash and all the other crews were mostly from the downtown eastside of the Bronx so we wanted to really stay away from them and do our own thing, cause it started getting clustered. So that’s why we stayed so close to the Tee. As we called it back in those days.

 

 

So where were yall rocking before that?

 

 

63 park, 31 park over by the Bruckner.

 

 

What about in the winter?

 

 

Oh we was doing high school joints. Our main high school was Evander High. As well as Stevenson high and we used to tear it up all by our selves.

 

 

So back in those days yall would do parties for 4 and 5 hours by your selves?

 

 

4 and 5? Try 6 and 7 or more! Man we had Baron and BreakOut. Baron would do his blending mixes and that is when we do our recess. When we came on that meant it was time for the show again.

 

 

So just think back for me during those times in those high schools yall would do one or two sets of routines in those 6,7 hour nights?

 

 

Man 4 and 5 sets of routines a night.

 

 

Can you remember how many routines the group had back in those days, approximately?

 

 

Crazy routines.

 

 

During Rahiem days?

 

 

Rahiem and during Rodney and Jeff. We also did skating rings. Over on the Bruckner and here on Jerome ave. also in Brooklyn, place called the Empire.

 

 

So what was the difference between the Harlem World crowd and the T- Connection crowd?

 

 

Harlem World was a Harlem crowd, much more laid back. They were more used to D.J. Hollywood and Reggie Wells and them! You know, that Disco crowd. At the T- Connection the crowd was more louder.

 

 

So how did the Funky 4 meet Rodney Cee and Jazzy Jeff?

 

 

Well they were down with the Magnificent 7 from up here in the Bronx, and they were doing their thing , but just not well known like me and K K. The day we let go Rahiem, Sha- Rock got mad and quit so we were giving auditions. The auditions were given at Baron’s house and Jeff and Rodney came, as well as Special K of the Treacherous 3 later.

 

 

What!

 

 

Yeah and till this day he always holds it against me that I picked Rodney and Jeff over him.

 

 

Well what did he do wrong that you did not pick him?

 

 

He didn’t do any thing wrong it was just that he came solo, Rodney and Jeff came as a team.

 

 

So why didn’t you just take Special K and Rodney since at the time Rod was better then Jeff?

 

 

 

They came as a team, a team with their own routines. We were trying to build a Funky 4 with say chemistry. Now maybe if somebody would of came with K or just another person trying out then we probably would have took K. Once Sha-Rock found out we formed another Funky 4 Sha wanted back in. We didn’t have any beef with her we just figured we had something even better especially adding her back on. So me and KK did our own routines Rod and Jeff did there routines and Sha had her own routine and then we would combine all together. Yo it worked out so blessingly.  It was just meant to happen like that.

 

 

So how did Bobby Robinson of Enjoy records know to come to yall?

 

 

Pumpkin God bless him. He was the drummer on our “Rappin and rocking the house”. Which we did in  Breakout’s basement. Pumpkin introduced Bobby Robinson to us.

 

 

Troy L. Smith- Thank you my brother Keith.

 

Keith Keith- It’s all good!

 

 

Praise God and God Bless you.

Troy L. Smith from the GRANT Projects in HARLEM. One

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